Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I was thinking I should wait a while, let the shellac cure, and rub it out so it was shiny. But after asking around, I hear that it's a good idea to do that, say, about a month from now. Wait around for a month?!? So I just went ahead and strung it up tonight. It felt great to get away from the finishing stuff and get back into something that I have an easier time with: setup. I'll buff it shiny, later.

It has a light and balanced feel to it. And a warm voice. It definitely has that 30's Martin vibe, and some volume to it. And this is just the first day.

Good news, the truss rod works. It's a little tight, and I don't know why, but it works good.

I have more work to do, filing on the nut and saddle. But here it is.

(The cloudiness you are seeing in the pictures above and below is actually bone dust from the nut.)


  1. hmmm a month. I wonder if that's because it's an acoustic. I could see giving it time to breathe and adjust. How long has it taken to get to this point?

    I think for french polish as a whole you can go much shorter. For my electrics I do a final gas off for a week. My test pieces 3 days and they do fine... Of course longer is probably better.

    Looking great!

  2. I used some swirl remover on an out of the way place after the finish had been done for a week, and it made a cloudy spot, like the whiteness had rubbed into the surface. I did rub on it pretty hard though, to try to get some ridges out. maybe I should use 1200 grit with oil on that, and then do swirl remover after. From what I've heard it can take a while for shellac to harden, which is why I heard to wait about a month. Then, you can lightly buff it. So that was my plan.

    These pictures really don't do justice to how it really looks. I used the flash, indoors, and at night, because I was excited just after I got it strung up. After the final finish it will look much nicer. I'm really pleased with the shellac on top of the stain and dyes I used. It has a lot of depth.

  3. This may help, it is from Stewart McDonald, it is more centered on "Micro Finishing" than french polish itself but...

    "Wet sand cured finishes starting with as as fine a grit as possible. If sanded to 600-800 grit, start with Stewart MacDonald coarse polishing compound. If wet sanded to 1200-1500 grit start with Medium compound. In both cases proceed through all buffing stages and finishing with Swirl Remover.

    Use 1500-2000 grits for ultra - delicate sanding. With 2000 grit you can touch up and spot sand a lcquer finish, rub-out with swirl remover, and leave hardly a trace that you were there. Of course, practice your technique on scrap finishes first..."

    I didn't think the pictures would do justice, they rarely do. Some of the pictures I could pick up on the reds and they seemed pretty brilliant. Can't wait to see the finished product.

  4. Here's something that would definitely add credence to the waiting a month... Interesting...

    the Final Touch
    We should wait at least a week, preferably two, before handling the finished piece. The shellac is very soft immediately after it has been applied, and is easily damaged or abraded from handling. Shellac will continue to dry and harden for several years, depending on the environment, but a couple weeks is usually sufficient for normal handling and polishing.
    The surface gloss can be improved after the finish has sat for a couple days. Add a small amount of straight denatured alcohol to a new applicator pad, and lightly whisk it across the surface. DO NOT RUB because this will soften the shellac and damage the gloss.
    If you can't live with any circular ridges that may remain in the surface finish, they can be removed with 0000-steel wool that is rubbed across the ridges after the piece has set for at least two weeks. To restore the gloss, polish the surface with 4F pumice, followed by Rottenstone, using the velour cloth as an applicator and raw linseed oil or mineral oil as a lubricant.
    The shellac can also be buffed with White Diamond compound on a linen wheel to achieve a spectacular gloss. However, the buffing is harder on the surface than hand polishing and the shellac must be very hard. I get the best results from buffing when the piece has had at least three months for the finish to cure before buffing, and a year is even better. This is definitely not a "quick" finish, but it is definitely worth the wait.
    Apply a coating of paste wax for protection of the surface. Beeswax, TrewaxĂ’ or Minwax® finishing waxes are good for this purpose. Do not use a stick wax because the heat required to melt the wax will damage the shellac surface.